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SCREEN HUB

Screen Australia reveals passion for the supernatural in sector

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Screen Hub
29 October 2020
By David Tiley



Twenty-two projects, a million dollars and a surge of ghost stories will keep the development wheels churning to build the national slate for 2021.


Ghosts, ghosts and more ghosts. Or horror, or genre-bending. Or comic cannibalism. While screenwriters have pushed to abandon realism for some time, it looks very much as if Netflix has turned our collective minds inside out. Who would have expected a revolt against our aggressively materialistic and intuitively wholesome society?


What is more, Screen Australia continues to back smaller and early career projects, in blatant defiance of the old-fashioned rules about needing a viable market.


The latest announcement of development from Screen Australia includes funding for seven features, 16 television dramas and five online projects.


The online projects tend to be more psychologically driven, interpersonal projects that rely on performances rather than flights of imagination. 


You can read Screen Australia’s summary of some key projects here, but we will flick through to the actual lists. Where is the creative energy going? We are watching the rise of podcasts as either a form of development or a source of adaptation. That could be the most important message of the whole list.



Feature films


Premium


APARNA


Felix Media Pty Ltd


Genre Drama, Musical


Director S. Shakthidharan


Writers S. Shakthidharan, Jeyasingham Jeyamohan (Tamil dialogue)


Producer John Maynard


Executive Producer Bridget Ikin


Synopsis: Separated during Sri Lanka’s civil war, a mother and son are re-united in modern day Sri Lanka.



DRUM WAVE


Carver Films Pty Ltd


Genre Folk Horror 


Director Natalie Erika James


Writers Natalie Erika James, Christian White


Producers Anna McLeish, Sarah Shaw, Natalie Erika James


Synopsis A young pianist, Yumi, is forced to confront her fear of motherhood when she marries her fiancé, Hiroshi, on the remote island he grew up on: a community with bizarre fertility rituals.



FINNEGAN’S FIELD


Sweetpotato Films Pty Ltd


Genre Horror


Director Sian Davies


Writer Victoria Madden


Producers Victoria Madden, John Molloy


Synopsis Finnegan’s Field is a dark fairytale about a twelve-year-old girl, Madrigal Barker, who mysteriously disappears for three years, only to return home just as mysteriously – but not quite the same…



THE CONCERT


Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd


Genre Drama


Writer Penelope Chai


Producer Sheila Jayadev


Executive Producers Sophie Raymond, Bob Connolly, Helen Panckhurst


Synopsis A gifted violinist is forced to confront deep family wounds in her journey to perfect the solo at the school’s annual music concert, spearheaded by the formidable head of music. Inspired by the acclaimed documentary Mrs Carey’s Concert.



Generate


ONE MORE SHOT


Truce Films


Genre Comedy Drama


Director Nicholas Clifford


Writers Alice Foulcher, Gregory Erdstein


Producers Virginia Kay, Jim Wright, Elise Trenorden, Emma Roberts


Executive Producer Virginia Whitwell


Synopsis NYE 1999. Minnie discovers a bottle of time-travelling tequila that takes her back to the start of the night, giving her a bottle’s worth of shots to change the course of her millennium.



SMALL SPACES


Triptych Pictures Pty Ltd


Genre Thriller


Writer/Director Shelly Lauman


Producers Kristian Moliere, Rebecca Green


Synopsis When Tash Carmody was eight, she thought she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away at a carnival, but no one believed her and she’s been traumatised ever since. Now seventeen, Tash starts to see Sparrow again, as disturbing memories of her childhood resurface. Determined to find out what happened the night of the carnival, Tash befriends Mallory to try to piece together a nightmare that won’t go away.



WENT UP THE HILL


Causeway Films HQ Pty Ltd & Pop Film Ltd


Genre Psychological thriller


Director Samuel Van Grinsven


Writers Samuel Van Grinsven, Jory Anast


Producers Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton, Vicky Pope


Synopsis Jack ventures to remote New Zealand to attend the funeral of his estranged birth mother and meets her grieving widow. But his search for answers becomes dangerous when his mother’s ghost returns to inhabit both her son and widow, instigating a life-threatening nocturnal dance between the three of them.



Television


Premium


CRITICAL INCIDENT


Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd


Genre Drama, Crime


Writer Sarah Bassiouni


Producer Sheila Jayadev


Executive Producer Debbie Lee


Synopsis When a civilian bystander dies during a police pursuit, the lives of the pursued and the pursuer are thrown into turmoil. 



DUCK TURPIN


Cheeky Little Media Pty Ltd


Genre Action adventure, Comedy, Science fiction


Creator Darren Keating


Writer Ray Boseley


Producer Celine Goetz


Executive Producers Patrick Egerton, David Webster


Synopsis The most important duck in history, yanked into the future by time-travelling rebels on a mad scramble to the ends of the Earth… And the beginnings of something big!



FIVE BEDROOMS SEASON 3


Hoodlum Active Pty Ltd


Genre Comedy, Drama


Writers Christine Bartlett, Michael Lucas, Mithila Gupta


Producers Nathan Mayfield, Tracey Robertson


Executive Producers Nathan Mayfield, Tracey Robertson


Synopsis In season three the weight of the world bears down on the house, triggering both painful betrayal, and powerful new shows of strength and commitment— but will they prevail as a collective?



PRINCESS PRIME MINISTER


Timothy Bain


Genre Family


Writers Tim Bain, Charlotte Rose Hamlyn


Synopsis In a fabulous mythological medieval realm, a democratically-elected princess solves fairytale-style crises, as she blossoms into a strong, wise and empathetic leader.



DEVOTION


Lingo Pictures Pty Ltd


Genre Drama


Writers Matt Cameron, Liz Doran


Producer Jason Stephens


Executive Producer Helen Bowden


Synopsis Devotion. is a drama about a high-profile family, as they grapple with morality, money, and family loyalty.



SNOWBALL


Matchbox Pictures


Genre Comedy, Drama


Writers Hannah Carroll Chapman, Romina Accurso, Briar Grace-Smith


Producer Warren Clarke


Executive Producer Penny Chapman


Synopsis Inspired by the hit ABC podcast Snowball, this is the story of how a swank Yankee con-artist scammed a naïve New Zealand family and what happened when they went in pursuit.



THE RICH MAN’S HOUSE


Fremantle


Genre Thriller, Mystery, Science fiction


Writer Alexei Mizin, Ryan van Dijk


Executive Producer Nat Lindwall


Synopsis: When an avalanche traps Rita in an eccentric billionaire’s mountaintop mansion, she must confront the ghosts of her past to escape a powerful supernatural foe. Fusing Agatha Christie with Stephen King, and based on Andrew McGahan’s final novel, The Rich Man’s House is a series about wealth, ego and mankind’s fractured relationship with the natural world.



TOGETHER


Princess Pictures Pty Ltd


Genre Horror


Writer/Director Michael Shanks


Producers Laura Waters, Mike Cowap


Executive Producer Emma Fitzsimons


Synopsis After trading their social lives for a mortgage, a not-so-young-anymore couple move to the country to begin the next step of their strained relationship. Whilst settling into their new home, they contract an unexplainable illness – an infection that causes intense physical horrors the further apart they are. Now to survive they must separate before they become a single, new being – unable to determine where one of their bodies ends and the other’s begins.



TRADECRAFT


Rainfall Entertainment Pty Ltd


Genre Action adventure, Drama


Writers Maryam Master, Felicity Packard, Greg Haddrick


Producer Louisa Kors


Executive Producer Greg Haddrick


Synopsis: In 1948 Dick Helms and Eloise Page joined the CIA as young idealists, determined to collect the Intelligence needed to plan targeted operations that would soon see the entire world filled with enlightened, peaceful, American-led democracies. So what happened?



Generate


ANDREW THE BIG BIG UNICORN


Pirate Size Productions Australia Pty Ltd


Genre Family


Writer Dan Nixon


Producer Bryony McLachlan


Executive Producer Avrill Stark


Synopsis A creative and sweet hearted rhinoceros named Andrew grapples with growing up a bit different to his peers.



SEEN (formerly BROWN SKIN GIRL)


Roadshow Rough Diamond


Genre Comedy, Drama


Writers Ayeesha Ash, Emily Havea, Angela Nica Sullen, Sopa Enari, Jessica Tuckwell


Producers Dan Edwards, John Edwards


Synopsis: It's hard being mixed race in white spaces; especially when you (unintentionally) get mixed up in all sorts of drama. Follow Ayeesha, Emily and Angela as they glide (and sometimes elbow) their way through life in Sydney, as they struggle to maintain their hair and their sisterhood, dodging toxic relationships and trying not to let ‘where are you from?’ ruin their days.



OVER MY DEAD BODY


Amal Awad


Genre Comedy, Drama


Writers Amal Awad, Jane Allen, Kacie Anning, Adele Vuko


Synopsis A Muslim woman’s newly-independent life is disrupted by the ghost of her recently-deceased, conservative mother, whose supernatural presence is a mystery to both.



SICK TO DEATH


Everyone We Know, Rhapsody Films 


Genre Comedy, Drama


Creator / Writer Thomas Wilson-White


Producers Lizzie Cater, Alice Willison


Executive Producer Justine Flynn


Script Editor Jean Tong 


Synopsis When both of his mothers are diagnosed with terminal cancer, Chance, a self-involved queer playwright is forced to abandon his burgeoning career and return to his childhood home to become their full-time carer.



SORRY ABOUT THE MESS


Princess Pictures Animation Pty Ltd


Genre Comedy, Fantasy, Animation


Writer Cassie Workman


Producers Mike Cowap, Sarah Lang


Synopsis Lilly Peril, a cynical transgender punk-rocker, begins to lose her grip on reality when she is rejected by her mother. In this mind-bending animated comedy series, Lilly navigates heartbreak, new love, transition and a boss in the witness protection program in pursuit of her most honest life.



TROUBLED YOUTH


Vanessa Bates


Genre Comedy, Drama


Writers Vanessa Bates, Ross Mueller


Synopsis Three suburban middle-aged women reform their teenage rock band, Troubled Youth, to rage against the dying of the light.



WE ATE JEFF


Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd in association with Tandem Media


Genre Comedy


Creators Nick Musgrove, Nick Russell


Director Catriona McKenzie


Writers Nick Musgrove, Nicolette Minster, Anna Barnes


Executive Producer Damian Davis


Synopsis A group of strangers survive a plane crash in the desert and reluctantly eat the dead pilot. To their surprise, they are rescued later that afternoon. They resolve to cover up their terrible secret.



Online development


Generate


ADMITTED


2c Pictures


Genre Comedy, Drama


Director Mohini Herse


Writers Nina Oyama, Belinda Jombwe, Mohini Herse


Producer Jessica Murphy


Executive Producers Craig Anderson, Luke Eve


Synopsis After surviving an abusive relationship, stubbornly optimistic Caitlyn Atondo is tricked by her therapist into spending some time at a psychiatric hospital. During her stay, Caitlyn encounters an unlikely support system of colourful characters who help her come to terms with her past.



ARGUMENTS WITH MY MUM


Matthewswood Pty Ltd


Genre Comedy, Family


Director Jason Christou


Writers Jason Christou, Zoe Carides


Producer Lee Matthews, Naomi Mulholland


Synopsis The first-born boy of a Greek-Australian household might always be revered, but it’s his Mi̱téra (his Mama) who always knows best, or so she thinks…



DRAGON FRIENDS: DREAM KILLERS


Edan Lacey & B Jenkins & N.s Khan & Grace Rein


Genre Action adventure, Comedy, Fantasy


Director David Harmon


Writers Edan Lacey, David Harmon, Alexandra Lee, Michael Hing, Ben Jenkins, Simon Greiner


Producers Edan Lacey, Grace Rein, Ben Jenkins, Shakeera Khan


Synopsis When a group of friends is banned from their local trivia night, a strung-out dad must find a way to keep his splintering friendship group together. His solution: host a game of Dungeons and Dragons.



MID LIFE


More Sauce Pty Ltd


Genre Drama


Director Luke Eve


Writer Anna Lindner


Producers Luke Eve, Gina Carter


Synopsis A highly acclaimed London-based artist appears to have achieved the perfect life balance as mother, wife and creative, when at 48, everyone suddenly leaves her for better offers. Alone for the first time in her life, a new acquaintance, acute anxiety, is more than happy to fill every role available.



THE CASE OF THE DISPOSABLES


Dragonet Films Pty Ltd


Genre Action adventure


Directors Sonia Whiteman, Renny Wijeyamohan, Kate Riedl


Writers Renny Wijeyamohan, Keir Wilkins, Sonia Whiteman, Saman Shad 


Producers Karen Radzyner, Renny Wijeyamohan


Synopsis: Some secrets are toxic. When her father goes missing just hours before a crucial immigration hearing, 14-year-old Priya and her rag-tag group of friends set out to find him. But when their search leads them to a local recycling warehouse, they stumble upon a living, breathing secret buried in the dark that will endanger the entire community. Now that they’ve scratched the surface, there’s no going back.


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